Scams and alerts

One of the Commission’s roles is to enforce the Fair Trading Act, which prohibits misleading conduct and unfair selling practices by those 'in trade'.

The Commission is increasingly being contacted about potential 'scams'. An example of a scam we received complaints about is 'scratch and win' prizes sent by Malaysian 'travel agents'. The travel agents and prizes didn’t exist and consumers lost the money they sent to receive their prize.

How do I avoid scams?

Where do I find more information about scams and how to avoid them?

Which scams does the Commerce Commission investigate?

If a scam is being run by an individual in a personal capacity rather than by an entity or person 'in trade' then it belongs with agencies such as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) or Police to consider. For example an email sent to you from an unknown individual in Nigeria requesting you to move a large amount of money from a personal bank account is outside the Commission’s role.

A lot of scams are based off-shore and are often more difficult for the Commission to address or disrupt. One of the ways the Commission can help is by informing consumers about potential scams so that they can avoid them, and can tell their family and friends to avoid them.

We encourage people to contact the Commission with concerns about a scam or potential scam.

From time-to-time the Commission will issue a media release warning consumers about a scam or potential scam.

See some examples here.

How do I avoid scams?

The old adage 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably is' still applies. Before disclosing your personal information or handing over money to an unfamiliar business, consumers should check thoroughly that they are dealing with a genuine business.

The Commission strongly recommends that consumers are not rushed into a decision and instead search for the seller online and talk to family and friends first. You should also check review sites, social media and websites like Scamwatch to see what other customers experienced.

Where do I find more information about scams and how to avoid them?

Other consumer fact sheets

Sometimes we find that the conduct being complained about is not technically a scam but rather a valid business engaging in misleading conduct or employing unfair selling practices. Either way, you do have rights as a consumer, and you can contact the Commission. You can learn more about your rights by reading the Commission’s fact sheets such as; buying and selling online, unfair sales techniques and pyramid selling.